Source: Billings Gazette March 16, 2017
Mike Ferguson
Image Credit: Billings Gazette

A bill that would allow communities to vote on imposing up to a 4-cent tax on luxury goods and services in exchange for a minimum 10-percent property tax reduction got a committee hearing Thursday.

Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, told the Senate Taxation Committee that his Senate Bill 331 “is a local solution to two statewide problems: crumbling infrastructure and increasingly onerous property taxes.”

The bill is designed to help local governments begin chipping away at the state’s $27 billion worth of infrastructure needs, according to the bill’s language.

It defines luxury goods and services as gift items, luxury items, rental cars “or other item or a service normally sold to the public or to transient visitors or tourists.” Under the bill’s provisions, communities enacting the local option will decide what to tax, how much to tax (up to 4 percent), and how long the tax will last, proponents said.

In their party platforms, both Republicans and Democrats “speak to investing in infrastructure, limiting property tax and the perpetual growth of government and returning control and authority to local governments,” Phillips told the committee. “SB 331 rests comfortably on both platforms.”

Proponents said the bill would allow the 11 million people who visit Montana annually to help pay for some of the infrastructure that they use during their visit.

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